First, get used to the idea of Aston Martin relaunching the old-school Lagonda brand. Then swallow hard at this super-luxo Lagonda Concept itself, a posh BMW X6-alike which is deadly serious for production in 2012. Then prepare for another shock: it’s the sort of bastard half-cousin of a Mercedes GL.
The Lagonda is taller, heavier and more off-road-ish than any Aston, including the four-door Rapide. That means Aston’s own aluminium structure and chassis just won’t to do the job.
Aston Martin has been having chats with Mercedes for some time, and the Germans allowed the Brits to use the GL chassis and suspension for the Lagonda. A final agreement hasn’t been signed, but Aston’s boss Ulrich Bez told Foreman it’s unlikely to change for production.
The concept has Aston’s own V12, and that too will be kept for production, though retuned for more torque top suit the car. But Bez agrees that Mercedes’ hybrid and diesel powertrains could also make their way into the Lagonda.
Why a new brand instead of calling it an Aston Martin? Bez says it’s because Aston has to remain pure sports. He claims that for a while after Porsche launched the Cayenne people got confused about what Porsche was for – sports cars or 4x4s. So his plan is to have Astons and Lagondas branded independently, but sold from opposite ends of the same dealers.
But even with the bought-in platform, engineering the Lagonda will be a huge challenge. Bez says that unless he gets more investment in Aston Martin soon, or by a miracle sales of Astons pick up, there isn’t the money to bring the Lagonda to fruition.
We have, incidentally, had it confirmed by an extremely high-level source that Aston and Mercedes talked last year about using Aston providing its low-volume aluminium chassis expertise for the next Maybach. This would have made a good swap for the GL bits in the Lagonda.
But that Maybach project is on hold at the moment. Mercedes doesn’t really know what it wants to do with Maybach, have been giving a thorough kicking by Rolls-Royce.